The Real Mr Bean
Big-screen hard man Sean Bean confesses that when he's not swashbuckling, he's partial to a spot of gardening...Interview: Sarah Kennedy
Sean Bean is around a lot these days. You can catch him in Don't Say A Word with Michael Douglas, in Lord of the Rings (still showing) and later this year in thriller Equilibrium. At 43, he's the UK's most versatile star, cracking Hollywood open like a nutshell to feature in everything from action flicks to high drama. Twice married, he is devoted to his three children.
Hi, Sean, where are you calling from?
I'm at my house in London.
Is that where you call home?
Yes, although at the moment home is more often than not a hotel room. I've just got back from Japan, but before that I was in the US and I was living in New Zealand for Lord of the Rings. But I feel most settled here. London is great.
But you're not from London?
I was born in Sheffield. Most of my family is still there.
Do you prefer the showbiz life in London, then?
Not at all. My best friend here is actually an old friend from Sheffield. My working environment is always intense - I go in, do a job, focus on it totally - so I'm ready for a break at the end of it. Acting is my job, but I don't want to do it when I'm not, well, doing it. I hardly go out or do the publicity thing; my time off is too valuable.
When you're not working, what do you like doing? Are you a very outdoorsy person - always up a mountain with a rucksack and a compass?
What, like a rambler?
Yes, that's right...
How disappointing. You seem like an outdoor person, but I'm going purely on the characters you play. There's no reason why you should be like Sharpe in real life...
Well, I enjoy my garden; I like planting trees. Does that count?
Yes, I definitely like getting out in my garden and don't get as much time as I'd like for that.
How does all the travelling you do impact on your life and relationships?
It's hard. Being away for long stretches of time isn't good for any kind of relationship. I miss my children, miss home comforts; it's difficult. But it has its compensations. I feel fortunate to be able to do what I do.
This is your "moment", isn't it? You're in everything...
It seems like that. I want to continue with it as long as I can.
Do you always choose those swashbuckling action roles?
No. There isn't a game plan. I look at scripts and choose the ones that most appeal. I've just finished a low-budget film, The Big Empty, with Jon Favreau, which was a real change for me. I play this cowboy...
It's just that I can picture you in a cowboy outfit...
Can you? Well, anyway, it was a good experience, which I really enjoyed, and very different to the kind of big-budget productions I have been working on.
Do you usually have your own trailer on set with assistants, masseurs and so on?
I never have "special requests" if that's what you mean. But, you know, I'm normally quite well looked after; it does become a bit indulgent after a while.
How do you like to indulge yourself? Have you got any Ferraris in the garage?
No. I drive a Range Rover - they're bringing out a new one, which looks brilliant - but that's it, really. I like to go off on little trips as a treat, and when I travel I'll fly, you know, in comfort...it's a great life.
How else do you like to relax - are you all fit and sporty?
Spending time with my kids, really simple things, actually. Reading, going to the cinema. If I go to the gym, it's very reluctantly. I prefer watching sport on TV. I'm a big soccer fan, as you probably know...
Will you be watching the World Cup?
Probably, but I have no idea where in the world I'll be by then. No doubt wherever it is, I'll be able to wangle a TV.
Do you ever fly your kids out to your film locations?
I have done. They came out to LA when I made Patriot Games with Harrison Ford, but they're busy in school. I try to get back to visit. On Lord of the Rings, because it was a year's filming, I'd get back on four-week trips.
Look, I've got to ask - are you in a relationship?
That's fantastic! For your female fans, I mean. I'm not sure how you feel about it...
Finally, what are you still trying to achieve in life?
I don't know. I just want to try to carry on being as true to myself as I can, working hard for my family. That's it really.
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